October 15, 2017
QUEZON CITY – Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge Catalino S. Cuy said today that the DILG is “open to suggestions” regarding the drop boxes for the Mamamayang Ayaw sa Anomalya, Mamamayang Ayaw sa Iligal na Droga (MASA MASID) and that there is no need to scrap the budget allocated for the purpose altogether.
Cuy made the pronouncement after the MASA MASID, along with the “drop box mechanism”, was grilled in the Senate plenary debate for DILG's budget and was deemed as "prone to malice and abuse which can possibly lead to unnecessary deaths".
"We can do away with the MASA MASID drop box but not the whole budget earmarked for the mechanism," he says.
MASA MASID is a barangay-based anti-criminality, anti-corruption, and anti-illegal drugs program which encourages multi-sectoral partnership to intensify the spirit of volunteerism at the community level.
Cuy acknowledges the adverse reactions from various sectors on the drop box scheme but maintained that it is meant as a feedback mechanism that will encourage the people to take an active role in ensuring peace and order in communities.
“The drop box is not meant for ‘Tokhang’ as claimed by different groups. We just want the people to be on board in the government’s efforts for peaceful and progressive communities,” he says.
He also clarifies that contrary to reports of the alleged cost for each of the MASA MASID drop boxes, there was no finality as to how much will be spent to purchase the controversial drop boxes, though proposals were lobbied for consideration.
"Even prior to the issue becoming public, there was no tag price for the drop boxes," he says.
According to Cuy, instead of wiping out the budget for the drop box, it is better that some of the funds be allocated to other DILG programs with similar functions in monitoring peace and order, data-gathering, and surveillance.
He says that the Department currently has existing programs where the concept of the ‘drop box’ can be utilized. He said that these programs are "cut from the same cloth" as the MASA MASID program.
"The possibility of realigning the MASA MASID budget as an augmentation for programs like peace and order councils (POCs) and barangay anti-drug abuse committees (BADAC) will help in the continued efforts for peace and order down to the grassroots level," he adds.
POCs are reorganized in the national, regional, provincial, city and municipal levels of the government to counter threats posed by criminality, insurgency, violent extremism and other issues on peace and order.
On the other hand, BADAC is the grassroots program of the DILG aimed at organizing barangay officials and other stakeholders as first line of defense at countering drug-related crimes in barangays.